If it hadn’t been for his headaches, Simon would never have found Debra, and if he hadn’t met Debra he might have stayed with Monica. He might have pots of money. He might still have headaches.
He marvels about it. His escape from stress and pain. He sometimes shakes his head when he thinks of it walking, and he notes that the movement doesn’t hurt any more. He’s only 33 — he expects to have several more if-it-hadn’t-beens in his life — but he’s making the most of his first big one.
He met Monica when he was 22. Fresh out of college with a bachelor’s degree in history, fresh into his first job. He sold life and disability insurance and annuities. He spent half of each day in his car (a black Camry), driving to appointments, working while he drove. He had a pretty good phone, a suction-mounted organizer, and a hard case with an inner desktop surface that rode eternal shotgun as Simon negotiated the Bay Area freeways.
Thud! Crunch of a blue car into the back of his. Woman driver, applying mascara he was later to learn. The impact pushed in her lights, buckled her hood. He approached her with indignation which dissolved as soon as he saw her long blonde hair and felt the weight of her anxious eyes.
“Oh, I’m so sorry!” She came at him shoulders forward, worried and apologetic. “Are you okay? It was my fault, and I am insured, but now I’m going to be late to the most important appointment of my life!”
Simon got to be a hero. They pushed her disabled Civic to the curb and abandoned it for then, lit headlights twisted sideways and down. Simon moved his case off the passenger seat and Monica slid onto the leather. Her gray skirt angled up on her left thigh as she settled into the bucket and fastened the belt. She wrote down her phone numbers and her insurance information while he drove her downtown.
She was a sales representative for a payroll service, and the meeting ahead was likely to be the biggest deal of her six month career. She turned to say goodbye as they neared her stop, and she noticed the monogram on his briefcase. “Like the president,” she observed.
“Henry Simon Tucker.” He pulled his car to the curb. “H. Simon. Look. Let’s have dinner tonight: talk about the accident, your job…” They traded cards; she put her right foot out of the car and turned back to smile her consent. “I’ll call you after this,” she said. “Wish me luck.”
“Luck.” He watched the back of her knees, the bump of her butt, till a driver honked behind him. He pulled away before she reached the glass door of the highrise building.
Their date that evening was fantastic. Sometimes Simon wonders if the ensuing ten years were based on nothing much more than memories of the perfections of that night.
Monica then was beautiful, happy, and grateful. She is a well-breasted slim blonde with big eyes and a sexy mouth. She’d landed the client so she was feeling prosperous. And Simon had not only gotten her to that appointment; he had forgiven the accident. After all, the damage to his car was scant; it was hers that needed the body work. So she was dining with a tall man in a nice suit, and she behaved attractively. She was drinking with a pair of broad shoulders, a set of appreciative eyes, a compelling jaw, and she squirmed becomingly beside him on the banquette. She was driving back across the bridge with him, gazing at his profile while she concentrated on the feel of his fingers on her thigh, when she leaned into him and nuzzled his neck. They kissed for the first time at the intersection of University and 6th, and they got so deeply into it that it took the Japanese beep of the car behind to separate them.
They continued closer as they approached Simon’s place. When he drove into his carport she released her seat belt and curled over him. He pulled her face to his and her skirt to her waist and they might have done it right there except another tenant entered the parking area. They went up to his apartment instead, and in the course of the next seven hours inaugurated their relationship in his living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. The utility porch was simply too small and too cold.
They were 22, unattached, and employed. Together they had a nest and plenty of money. The sex the first year was very nice; the promise from that first night hovered around their romance. They soon married.
There was some talk of graduate school for him but nothing came of it. There was some talk of camping and biking but nothing came of that either. They continued to advance in their marketing jobs. Simon sold the Camry and leased a Saab convertible. Monica traded in the Civic for an Acura.